There is no other thing more abominable to God than idolatry: “You shall have no other gods before me…You shall not bow down to them or worship them (images); for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Ex 20:3-5, NIV). From the beginning, God knew that men would worship what he could see and touch due to its lack of vision for what is spiritual and eternal. This loss of what is true was seen when the relationship with the only one who is worthy of glory, honor, and adoration was broken. It was necessary for that ungrateful being, not perceiving the ideal love, to make a scheme that is understandable to him in his wrecked state. From being in a place where God would speak directly with Adam, we come to a place where the law is given by a man, Moses; all indication, law, and command will be worthy of punishment and death.
Fear, tradition and convenience are how men, even without having understood God, are able to obey his commandments. It is this material view of God and his principles where the race starts in hypocrite obedience. After worshiping men and prostrating to them, they serve diligently only to the eye, hoping to gain honor from men just like themselves. They get filled with expectations, glories, and power that were not necessarily given by God. “Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.” (Psa 16:4). This is how men in all of the systems; social, economic, politic, and religious, wait for a reward for the work and achievement that they have done, not from God, but from other men. Satan behind all human glory wins a prestige that is every day towards his evil reign.
It is easier to live the law than, love and grace.
Therefore, the lovers and followers of men, follow through specific rules and by receiving a punishment or reward. They no longer love the divine beginnings or the spiritual law, instead they follow and adore men, following a universal pattern of conduct that is easy to manage: “I just do what I’m told.” There is no love, or understanding, and even though the idol dies, as any mortal does, they dig him up, groom him, and canonize him and elevate him. They completely lost the sight in “ the pillar of clouds and pillar of fire” that God himself moves in order to guide us to the path of eternity.
They also prefer to eat the manna of yesterday without comprehending and appreciating that the mercies of yesterday were for yesterday, and today, let us hope for a new one; a current manna, or teaching of God, at the time that is needed. But those who idolize men, their bodies will remain scattered in the wilderness, hopeless and discouraged: “This is what the Lord says: cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives” (Jer 17:5-6).
There is something interesting about all this: the law can be obeyed meticulously just as the Pharisees did. Even though they did not have the Spirit, they seemed perfect, when internally it was impossible because they had fallen in hypocrite paths. Nevertheless, the spiritual law of grace and mercy is impossible to live without the Holy Spirit, since without him, nothing spiritual can be understood. Similarly to Nicodemus, we would interpret things wrongly, which makes it impossible to understand and imitate; it becomes heavy and tiring. The heaviness is due to it not being dependent on intellect, but on God himself, who has always kept a remnant in his mercy. All whose knees have not bowed down to Baal nor Nebuchadnezzar, reserving more than seven thousand knees in each human epoch. They give testimony that the great “I am” is the one that all creation should one day recognize that he is worthy of all adoration and song through the ages.
What should we do to avoid following men?
Fundamentally, it is the knowledge of the Bible through the careful study of it, not in our human ways but through the guidance and fullness of the Holy Spirit, that keeps us from following men; by paying special attention to the message before putting our eyes on the messenger. Without loosing sight of that person who as a leader must also maintain a strong attitude that is also defined, as the Apostle Paul says: “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).
This talks about how the true servants of God must show evidence of Christ’s life and conduct through their acts. Nevertheless, we must not, under any circumstance, worship men who sooner or later will falter along with all the idolaters and lovers of men and themselves. Beloved, may God keep us safe every day to be able to worship our only God through his manifestation as the Son Jesus Christ, and the vision of the Holy Spirit. So may it be, amen and amen.